Meat packers

Abattoirs are responsible for keeping records of all arrivals, and for notifying the central authority of arrivals and slaughtering so that slaughtered animals could be recorded as having been “terminated” and no longer in the system. Abattoirs also monitor the identification of animals carefully so that animals coming from farms that had lost their accreditation were rejected and not slaughtered. Records of such rejections also have to be kept, and the central authority notified.

Abattoirs maintain their own “in house” tracing systems so that a package of meat or a carcass can be traced back to the animal, or at least to the group of animals, from which it originated. Recording times of deboning or packaging allow trace-back to the slaughter of the original consignment of animals provided that the time from slaughter to packaging was constant and known. Such “time-based” systems are common, but a carcass RFID tracking system is far better.

Each carcass is received with an assigned an unique identification number before bleeding-out and skinning, which should be recorded on a computer system; as the carcass is weighed and graded, this information is recorded against the carcass number. If meat is deboned and packaged (i.e. mixing of meat from various carcasses occurs), the numbers of the carcasses in the consignment that is deboned is recorded so that at least the batch numbers of the meat packages can be matched to a consignment of animals.

Ideally, the number assigned to the carcass is recorded in the abattoir’s system against the identification number of the live animal so that the abattoir traceability system is seamlessly linked to the “field” traceability system. In theory, a farmer should be able to query the traceability system to ascertain the slaughter weights and grades attained by each animal he/she consigned for slaughter.